One question is how the government's economic stimulus checks will affect the average shopper's willingness to splurge a little. Only a handful of the 130 million households scheduled to get rebates will have received them in time for the May 11 holiday.
Overall, 84.2% of shoppers say they plan to celebrate Mother's Day, and dining out continues to be one of the most popular treats, with consumers planning to spend $3 billion on taking Ma to brunch or dinner.
And flowers, of course, are big. Those polled say they expect to spend $2 billion on plants and posies, on what is typically the second-biggest day of the year for florists. While Christmas/Chanukah sales are bigger, 24% of all floral transactions and 25% of dollar volume happen on Mother's Day, and the Society of American Florists estimates that 34% of women and 40% of men made flower or plant purchases for Mother's Day last year.
Gift-card spending is estimated to be $1.6 billion.
Spending on clothing is expected to total $1.4 billion, and consumer electronics purchases, especially digital cameras and photo frames, are predicted to reach $1.2 billion.
One exception to the new conservatism is jewelry. While the NRF poll, conducted by BIGResearch, found that fewer shoppers overall will buy mama some bling (29.7% versus 32.8% last year), they'll spend much more when they do. Overall, these shoppers expect to spend $2.7 billion, compared to $2.1 billion last year.
And younger shoppers, surprisingly, are likely to be the biggest spenders, probably because they may have wives plus mothers, grandmothers and sisters, the NRF says. Young adults, 18-24, say they plan to spend an average of $170.71, followed by the 25-34 crowd, who'll spend an average of $153.17. Those 35-44 expect to spend an average of $145.86.
And as far as where they'll shop, so far consumers are planning on making their purchases at specialty stores (35%), discount stores (25.7%) and department stores (28.8%), with 18.3% planning to shop online.